Presidential office hours present new opportunities

On the morning of Wednesday Oct. 2, President Burstein held his second session of open office hours for students at Sampson House. The open office hours provide students the opportunity to drop by and have a conversation with President Burstein. The hours operate on a first come, first serve basis and occur twice a term.

During the most recent set of office hours, students asked a variety of questions. According to President Burstein, most students were there to invite him to events or to ask follow-up questions regarding the speech he made at the matriculation convocation.

Sophomore Shang Li was one of the students who took advantage of the opportunity to talk with President Burstein.

“I thought the conversation would be awkward since I don’t think he knows who I am,” said Li, “but I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all throughout our whole conversation.”

This suggests President Burstein’s open hours have accomplished what they were supposed to. “I think it is important for any president of a college to be available to students and have a conversation about who they are, what issues they face and also to better understand what’s happening in campus,” Burstein said.

In terms of maintaining communication with students, President Burstein’s research has shown that open office hours have worked well on other campuses. Additionally, he tries having lunch at Andrew Commons at least twice a week and attending athletic games. Additionally, he said that he would love to hear students’ suggestions on how he can efficiently use technology to be available to students.

Nancy Truesdell, Dean of Students, agrees that President Burstein wants to connect with students regularly in both formal and informal ways. Dean Truesdell encourages students to take advantages of open office hours to get to know the President of the University. She said, “Students should not take this for granted, as it is a genuine offer by President Burstein to listen to students’ ideas and gain student input.”

Jacob Woodford, Assistant to the President, believes that the open office hours provide opportunities both for students to engage with the leader of the university and for the President to learn more about campus from a student perspective.

To Woodford, the open office hours fit well with Lawrence’s community because “everyone here is deeply invested in the quality and enhancement of Lawrence, and mutual sharing is a major step in realizing our common goals.”